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Early Stage Digital Twins for Early Stage Engineering Design

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019


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While extensive modelling - both physical and virtual - is imperative to develop right-first-time products, the parallel use of virtual and physical models gives rise to two interrelated issues: the lack of revision control for physical prototypes; and the need for designers to manually inspect, measure, and interpret modifications to either virtual or physical models, for subsequent update of the other. The Digital Twin paradigm addresses similar problems later in the product life-cycle, and while these digital twins, or the “twinning” process, have shown significant value, there is little work to date on their implementation in the earlier design stages. With large prospective benefits in increased product understanding, performance, and reduced design cycle time and cost, this paper explores the concept of using the Digital Twin in early design, including an introduction to digital twinning, examination of opportunities for and challenges of their implementation, a presentation of the structure of Early Stage Twins, and evaluation via two implementation cases.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
© The Author(s) 2019


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